Women working in various areas of the sex industry and spokeswomen from the IPC are available for interview on the new government proposals.
Contact: International Prostitutes Collective, Crossroads Women’s Centre,
230A Kentish Town Rd; London NW5 2AB Tel (0207) 482 2496 / 07956 316 899 / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
How dare David Blunkett compare himself to Josephine Butler, a compassionate woman who campaigned against the criminalisation of sex workers and the segregation of prostitute women away from their sisters. Blunkett’s record so far has been nothing but punitive. It includes:
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against sex workers and clients resulting in prison sentences of up to five years. As women are the primary carers in society, this policy wrecks families and leads to children going into care. Over 60% of women in prison are mothers, and Blunkett is adding to this number.
Anti-trafficking legislation which is primarily used to deport sex workers. No evidence of force or coercion is needed to prove the offence. Police and immigration raids in Soho have demonstrated how immigrant prostitute women are being particularly targeted for arrest and removal. Fear of deportation prevents women from reporting violent assailants. Women from Soho are available for interview.
Targetting clients for arrest including disqualification from driving for those convicted of kerb-crawling. Working women in Sweden report that new laws criminalizing clients have driven women further underground and made women more vulnerable to exploitation by pimps and others. Women have less time to check clients out before jumping into a car, and have to work harder and take more risks to meet increasingly scared clients. Attacks have risen as a result.
What is needed:
- A change of police and court priorities from prosecution to protection. 60 prostitute women murdered in 10 years is 60 too many (and the figure is probably conservative)! Anthony Hardy, the ‘Camden Ripper’ was only able to murder so many women because the police refused to take his killing of sex workers and his domestic violence seriously.
- Decriminalisation, that is abolition of the laws which criminalise sex workers and clients. In New Zealand where offences of soliciting, brothel-keeping and pimping have been abolished, street workers have begun to leave the streets to work in premises and violent attacks have gone down. ‘Managed safety zones’ in non-residential areas away from the eye of the community become dumping grounds. Only 12% of women agree to work in the Netherland zones – sex workers report that “prostitutes prefer to keep their anonymity, their freedom and their complete earnings”.
- Increase benefits and the minimum wage, housing, the reinstatement of housing benefits to under 18s, abolition of students loans. Without these measures, women will still be driven into the sex industry by poverty and debt, and will not be able to afford to leave prostitution if they want to.